Tag Archives: lukaku

Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3


Well December went well, didn’t it? It all started so well with that memorable win at the Emirates, but sneaking out of there with 3 points unfortunately meant that we’d used up an entire month’s worth of luck in the space of 2 hours. By the time Boxing Day arrived it felt like Van Gaal had returned like the Ghost of Christmas Past. The players appeared to sense this too and joined in by attempting a macabre re-enactment of the infamous Norwich home game that ruined Christmas 2015.

Factor in a 0-0 draw against Southampton a few days later and it momentarily felt like we’d regressed 2 years. We haven’t, thankfully… I genuinely believe that. It was just a hefty kick in the bollocks that needs to be kept in perspective. Since I wrote here a month ago we’ve played a dozen games and suffered a major dip in form. Injuries, fatigue, a post-derby hangover… blame whatever you want. Yet we’re 2nd in the league and comfortably reached the CL knock-out stages – so we’re not doing all that badly.

Let’s be realistic here: over half of United’s squad still comprises of haphazardly recruited, distinctly underwhelming footballers – good players, but not great players. Most will be replaced as soon as their contracts are up. Forget the net spend figures and Jose/Pep comparisons being bandied about as they’re irrelevant for the most part. Looking at the talent we have in place, I maintain that we’re overachieving with what we’ve actually got.

Unfortunately, the gargantuan ball ache that nobody anticipated this season was Manchester City’s ridiculous form. The fact they’ve amassed an unprecedented points total at this stage skews the picture to the point that any progress made by United has been obscured. 2 years ago we’d have been 3 points clear at the top of the table with 47 points after 22 games. Instead, we’re sat 15 points off the pace so understandably, the mood about the place is poised somewhere between subdued and clinically depressed.

So, what to do? According to your average, internet-based moron, being 15 points behind City and with everyone feeling a bit sorry for themselves, it’s time to sack the manager. Quite how anyone could reach that conclusion is baffling, but such a mindset does exist out there. Can you imagine the alternative to Mourinho at this juncture? I can. United hovering just above mid-table with Giggs and Phil Neville in charge whilst Paul Scholes sits in the ITV studio claiming we’re ‘doing pretty well’ all things considered. Meanwhile, the entire footballing world pisses themselves laughing at our expense. No thanks, I’ll stick with Jose if you don’t mind.


That doesn’t mean to say I don’t think Mourinho has to change if he is to succeed in the long-term at Old Trafford. I think we were all guilty of underestimating the extent to which Guardiola would impact on City’s fortunes this season, but does Mourinho have to ability to drag this current United squad up to their current level? Either by instilling some radical shift in mindset and tactics, or by making some unforeseen changes in personnel.

To put this another way, Ferguson re-invented his United teams numerous times due to the shifting demands of what he deemed necessary to succeed. He famously gambled on youth in 1995, built a team of warriors to out-battle Arsenal, then set about constructing a side that proved even more consistent than Mourinho’s powerful 2005 Chelsea vintage. Basically, we might need a re-think if we’re going to get anywhere near City over the next couple of years – it’s not enough just to keep our fingers crossed hoping they won’t quite hit the same heights next season.

Take Lukaku as an example here – signed at huge expense to lead our attack for the next 5-6 years. Although his goals contribution has been respectable, I don’t think I’m being that unkind in suggesting he’s not the most fluid, all-round footballer to have graced the No.9 shirt at OT. Even as a flat-track bully, he doesn’t do that much bullying and he manages to miss as many sitters as both Rashford and Martial combined. I’ve no desire to kick Romelu whilst he’s down here at all, he’s clearly trying his hardest. I’m merely suggesting that Jose might benefit from re-visiting his plan of having him as our attacking figurehead for the next 5 years.

If you don’t agree with this harsh assessment of Lukaku’s form, then take some solace from the fact that regular whipping boy Jesse Lingard has improved immeasurably since being singled out for a slagging off here a couple of months back. Whilst Lukaku and the returning Zlatan have looked well off the pace, Lingard has carried the team over the last couple of months and proven himself United’s most potent attacking threat by miles. Fair play to him. I will happily admit to being wrong and I genuinely hope he maintains this new level of consistency he’s reached. I still think he’s a bit of a dickhead, and acknowledge the fact he’s quite entitled to hold the same opinion of me.

Despite the team’s solid progress overall, we’re left facing the grim prospect of watching City steamroller towards the title for the next few months. As unpalatable as this may be, we’re just going to have to suck it up as every minor setback befalling United is inevitably blown out of all proportion. We’ve still got much to play for despite the league summit being out of reach; still in the FA Cup and worse teams than ours have won the Champions League in the not too distant past. I appreciate I’m clutching at straws here, but how sweet would that be? Shades of ’68 as City win the title whilst United usurp them by claiming the big one. Lingard screamer to win it in the last minute, anyone?

Copyright Red News – January 2018



The Beat(en) Generation


Unless you’ve been living under a rock or are marooned up in Tier 3 somewhere, you’re probably well aware of the singing section’s recent attempt to award Romelu Lukaku his own personalised terrace ditty. Nothing too controversial with that decision, you might assume. Unfortunately, the boundaries of good taste have been well and truly obliterated as the song in question not only acknowledges Romelu’s goal scoring abilities, it also alleges in uproariously graphic detail that his penis size is equally impressive.

A bit weird? Undoubtedly. Was I surprised to hear it? Not in the slightest.

So this month’s burning question then: are the United fans singing this a massive bunch of racists or merely just a bit of an embarrassment? Since we’re living in the era where anything brainless is excused as banter, it’s very unlikely that anyone revelling in the size of another bloke’s cock is not doing it entirely seriously. Consequently, I’m not sure I agree with Marina Hyde’s assertion that all racial stereotyping is racist, but I’d certainly concur that the song is entirely classless and doesn’t reflect well on anyone joining in or United fans in general.

Given that Lukaku has weighed in himself now asking fans to ‘move on’, it’s more than likely the song will die a slow death rather than hanging around forever like the similarly unreconstructed ‘you eat dogs in your own country’ Ji-Sung Park effort. I hope so. Once upon a time attempts to generate an atmosphere at OT didn’t involve marching to the ground from the Tollgate pub whilst singing a song in praise of your leading goalscorer’s penis. I might be a traditionalist lacking a sense of humour, but it just strikes me as a bit fucking zany and needs to be knocked on the head.

It’s not the first time the J-Stand happy clappers have prompted collective groans from many observers and I doubt it’ll be the last. Perhaps I should be full of admiration for people still trying to create an atmosphere in the ground when that ship sailed 20 years ago; but they lost me at the point they called for a new singing section independent of the existing singing section in Tier 2 of the Stretford End. That’s before you get to the fact placing this in J-Stand meant uprooting hundreds of long-standing ST holders in that area. I’m sorry, but any credibility these people ever had evaporated at that point.

Unsurprisingly, 2 years on from their move to J-Stand, the entire venture has been every bit the resounding flop most of us in the ground anticipated. The atmosphere or noise level on an average match day hasn’t improved at all (not helped by the football on view in recent years, admittedly), so the only discernible change is that supporters in the section are given carte blanche to stand for the duration of the game… that and it’s created a safe space for those involved to compare bobble hats and show off their brand new ‘vintage’ Adidas trackie tops.


So let’s re-cap here. A singing section is started in Stretford Tier 2 and it doesn’t work. Singing section is then moved to J-Stand, and again it doesn’t work. Unperturbed by this, it appears the organisers haven’t given up. An email has recently been circulated to their members outlining details of the latest meeting the group’s leaders have had with Dan Schofield, the Head of Venue Operations at OT. As well as blaming ‘day trippers’ for the general lack of atmosphere in there week-to-week, they are also lobbying United to free up a block of unreserved seats in J-Stand so the singiest of their singers can all sit/stand together. Yes, you did read that correctly. Their latest brainwave is to create a further singing section within the singing section that was put in place 2 years ago.

I’m sorry lads, but do you honestly believe that this latest round of proposals is going to work? You’ve already usurped 1,600 people who sat in those seats for years and now you’ve decided half of those who replaced them aren’t worthy of a spot in your section either. It’s utterly mental to assume that inconveniencing another several hundred ST holders you class as ‘day trippers’ is going to achieve anything whatsoever other than pissing a load more people off.

Here’s a novel idea, if you’re that motivated and convinced that your time and energies invested in this can make a genuine difference, how about just singing your hearts out at the match and not attempting to dictate who sits where and who’s worthy of a place alongside you? Without wishing to sound patronising, if I sound defeatist it’s because the battle you’re currently engaged in was fought and lost by a generation of United fans who felt just as passionate about this once upon a time as you feel now.

The average age of those people is probably 45-50 these days, and those of us who haven’t been priced out or simply got bored of the gentrification of the place are still going to the match now. We’ve spent most of our football watching lives being told to shut up and sit down by the club and the authorities; so after 20+ years of seeing the match day experience in steady decline the sense of ennui and déjà vu about proceedings becomes palpable.

I don’t know what the answer is here, but I’ll wish you all the best with your endeavours and trust you’ll count your blessings that at least the club are prepared to listen/pay lip service to your present manifesto. In the meantime, I’ll continue to die a little inside each time you launch into another impassioned rendition of ‘whoa whoa whoa whoa, hey hey hey hey’ and trust you’ll try to refrain from singing about Lukaku’s dick given it makes us all look like… well, dicks. Good luck.

Copyright Red News – September 2017


Higher Ground

Greetings, fellow football enthusiasts! After a welcome summer off, August rolls round again and it’s time for another 10 months of ill-considered United opinion. All ready to go then? No, not really? Excellent, let’s do this.

Firstly, I’m going to start with a heartfelt apology to the UEFA Europa League, the much derided, slow-witted sibling of its Champions League big brother. I spent the vast majority of last season demonstrating zero enthusiasm for our participation due to being a time-served dickhead, before shamelessly diving onto the hype train just as the final approached. This was clearly a bit snide and I was proven very wrong indeed.

As anyone in attendance will testify, Stockholm was a Euro away classic that will live long in the memory. Not in terms of the game, that was a bit of a stinker in which we bored our way to victory, just in terms of the trip itself. Great people, great city, great result. Flying out of Manchester just hours after the atrocity committed at the Arena felt very odd indeed. Placed in the context of life-changing events like that, football is obviously meaningless. It did however present the opportunity for those present in Sweden to demonstrate solidarity in some small way, proving that life goes on and we won’t be intimidated from doing what we love.

Arriving home after zero sleep in 36 hours, I made the mistake of binge-watching a jumble of media reports from both the match and the aftermath of the bomb… and all of a sudden I was an emotional wreck; proud of the team for completing the set and immensely proud of the city for its immediate response to the attack. I know it’s only football, but you know what it’s like at European finals… you don’t win them very often and when you do it can all come flooding out. I dunno what to say in conclusion, just that winning the Europa unexpectedly proved quite a life-affirming moment. And clearly, that’s not a sentence I ever envisaged writing.

Anyway, onto current matters and how are we looking for the season ahead? The transfer window this summer has proven remarkable based on the sheer number of players we’d apparently agreed personal terms with. At some point in mid-June we were clocking one per day. Morata, Neymar, Perisic, Aurier, Rodriguez, Talisca, Fabinho… it was relentless. Ed Woodward must have been dual-wielding mobile phones like some kind of cocaine-deranged city trader to have had all them lined up.

Away from Fantasy Island, actual real-life completed business has been more steady with only Lukaku, Lindelof and Matic arriving thus far. Solid acquisitions there, nothing too ground breaking but there’s still plenty of time remaining for one or two more. Common sense suggests that prior to further additions, we’ll have to ship a couple out as only Rooney and Januzaj have departed up to now. As things stand it’ll be a surprise if Ashley Young is still here in September and Mourinho managed to break several thousand hearts by quashing rumours of Fellaini heading to Galatasary.

I’m close to giving up on this now. Quite how Fellaini continues to enjoy the confidence of successive United managers remains the great unsolvable puzzle of our times. It’s become a question that gives me sleepless nights. I watch closely, I look for clues, I’ve pored over all available evidence but I still don’t have a clue what he’s doing here. In times of weakness I’ve started to doubt my judgement, but I can’t get beyond what I consistently see with my own eyes. One day the penny might drop and I’ll be able to understand his appeal, but I remain utterly perplexed for now.

As much as Fellaini’s employment continues to baffle, Rooney’s departure wasn’t any surprise at all. As a staunch Rooney advocate over the years, it probably took me longer than most to admit the game was up. But Fergie (as always) had it right when he was trying to edge him out back in 2013, as the last 4 years have been grim viewing for the most part. It certainly won’t take Everton long to realise his performance level is more Stella than stellar these days. However, in years to come the Rooney I’ll recall won’t be the lumbering 2017 vintage, it’ll be the spud-faced nipper that was smashing it up week in-week out from 2004-2012. He leaves as one of United’s greatest ever signings and we should wish him well.

Being brutally honest though, I’m struggling to see how we’ve improved significantly on what we had last year. Lukaku will replace Zlatan, Matic will screen the defence a’la Carrick and Lindelof will probably take a few months to settle based on how nervy he’s looked pre-season. All in all, a serious title challenge appears beyond us unless there’s a spectacular improvement on how the team performed for most of last season.

However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t room for some optimism. It’s highly unlikely that Chelsea will repeat their relentless form of last term, especially minus Costa. Liverpool and Arsenal are still as shit as ever and I think City’s decision to change their entire defence in one fell swoop is going to hurt them despite their plethora of attacking options. So if Lukaka scores goals, Pogba kicks on, United manage a serious upturn in home form… well you never know.

I can’t help suspecting that we’ve still got a big one incoming. We’re massively lacking a fancy dan, creative type so it’ll be a surprise if we start another season with (shudder) Young and Valencia as our only specialist wide players. I’ve got a theory in any case. As Neymar has gone to PSG, there’s no way that Madrid will be able to handle not making a splash this summer so they’ll push hard for Mbappe now. Meaning… hello Gareth Bale. It’s happening, people. Imagine the Instagram likes? #baleisared #allhailkingmonkey #pleasemakeitstop

Copyright Red News – August 2017